Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Soundgarden at the Gorge: Super day in the Superunknown

When Soundgarden announced in the Spring they would be touring again, and included a stop at the Gorge to wrap up their circuit, I was intrigued.

I'm a bit older than Soundgarden's target demographic.  But I came by my interest in their music honestly.  When my son Patrick was growing up, we talked music constantly.  The grunge movement/Seattle sound was all the rage in the mid-90's and so its only natural that Pat was attracted to it, so we talked Nirvana, the Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, and of course Soundgarden.  As Soundgarden became big enough to be played on mainstream FM radio, it was clear to me they had a lot in common with my '70's rock heroes, their big guitars and big vocals.  I got to know their best-known album, Superunknown, pretty well, and listened to some of their other tracks too, though I confess I don't know their catalog well.

When Pat and Lorri presented me with a ticket to the concert to the Gorge concert for Father's Day I was thrilled, if a bit disconcerted.  I wasn't expecting it, and wasn't sure what to expect for the show.  I felt I might be a bit out of my element.  There was a great line up of supporting bands-the Meat Puppets, Mastodon, and Queens of the Stone Age-but I really didn't know their music.  I felt I wasn't quite prepared. 

 Turns out I really didn't need to be, I just needed to enjoy the music.  Queens of the Stone Age was great, and as Soundgarden took the stage near dusk, it was clear the large crowd was stoked.  It was also clear many had some herbal boost to their enthusiasm, but not in an obnoxious, unruly, or disrespectful-to-their-neighbors way.  Frontman Chris Cornell quickly announced to the screaming faithful that this was going to be a getting reacquainted concert.  The setlist would be old favorites, and new songs would come on a future tour.  Needless to say, the crowd roared its approval. Soundgarden played for a solid two hours and they sounded great.  Vocalist Cornell hit all the right notes, guitarist Kim Thayil played that trademark sound, and drummer Matt Cameron seemed like he never left the band.  All my favorites were well played and a great time was had by all.
As if the great tunes weren't enough, the boys from Seattle brought a bit of a light show with them.

 And then there is the Gorge itself.  My second trip after last year's Tom Petty concert.  It is always amazing.  The weather was just right-probably high 70's-and the backdrop scenery is just amazing.  We arrived at 6:00 with the Columbia River winding its way sluggishly through the landscape.  The sunset low over the western tableland is a perfect beginning to the main act.  The night closes with an amazing starscape we just can't appreciate in the suburbs.  The only drawback is the long drive back to Puyallup that ended, mercifully at 2:30 AM.

The Gorge at Dusk

With the sun setting, Soundgarden explodes on to the stage.

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